Wednesday, October 30, 2013


The Sudanese writer Dr Khalid Mubarak has a different perspective on the Middle East Peace Process. I like his coining of the new Palestinian word “AlMutashail” for someone who is both an optimist and a pessimist. I guess that applies to us all in this context. We had best be positive though - it's an ethical obligation !


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Alone and Isolated / Deja Vu in Geneva / The Interim Agreement is Already Here

Alastair Crook's Conflicts Forum has been sending us articles they note as being of particular interest. We thought you might find their latest offering of interest. This came in today:

Conflicts Forum distributes articles and reports that we think might be of interest – in doing so, CF is not endorsing the content of the articles or papers, nor do they reflect any corporate view of CF. They are articles, reports, papers, etc. that we think might be of interest.

Commentaries from the Israeli press and leading Israeli commentators beginning with this piece by leading Israeli security and defense commentator, Alex Fishman:

Yedioth Ahronoth, 20 Oct, Alex Fishman 

The explosion between Netanyahu and Obama over the Iranian nuclear issue appears today to be inevitable.
The Americans reported to top Israeli officials about the Iranian opening offer, which was substantively different from anything that we’ve seen to date. That report was received with mixed feelings. On the one hand, even the Israeli establishment admits that the Iranian approach—as it was presented in Geneva—is new and interesting. On the other hand, officials in the prime minister’s inner circle harbor a deep concern, one which is based on information, that the American president is going to be prepared to ease sanctions on Iran even before the talks have been completed.
And so, while Netanyahu has been speaking about the need to continue and even to stiffen the sanctions, at least until a satisfactory agreement is signed with the Iranians, the Americans are already talking publicly about freeing Iranian assets in the United States and in other Western countries. There has been talk in the corridors of the administration in Washington about easing sanctions that pertain to Iranian oil.

Israeli officials admit that if the ideas that the Iranians have put on the table are just their opening positions, as befits seasoned traders, then there is an opening here for a solution that Israel will be able to live with. But if Iran succeeds in maneuvering the West so that its opening position becomes the end result of the negotiations, that would be catastrophic from Israel’s perspective. It is probably very reasonable to assume that the Prime Minister’s Bureau is already sharpening the swords of Israel’s friends in Congress.
On the eve of the talks in Geneva, Israeli security officials cited a series of signs that would indicate whether the process was serious this time. All of those signs appeared: there was a direct American-Iranian meeting; teams of professionals were formed to work on the ideas that were raised in the first meeting; a team will be formed to prepare for the next meeting, which is to be held as soon as early November. The Iranians didn’t waste time with interpreters; they simply chose to speak in English. They even asked for an end date for the talks: in one year.
The Iranians showed willingness to make concessions on two central issues: the production of nuclear fuel and increased inspection on production. They are prepared to show flexibility on the production of enriched uranium by means of centrifuges and converting it [into fuel rods], and they have agreed to relinquish the irradiated fuel in the plutonium plant in Arak. They are not prepared, at least not in the current stage of talks, to give up their production infrastructure. The nuclear facilities will continue to operate, but the Iranians will allow International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to visit them so as to ensure that they are not being used for military purposes.

If Iran meets its commitments, the production of an Iranian nuclear bomb will be delayed until an unknown date. But since the Iranian interest to become a nuclear power hasn’t changed in the Rouhani era, one needs to expect that any such agreement will be temporary. If nothing is done to dismantle the infrastructure that produces the nuclear fuel, Iran will be able to expel the IAEA inspectors at a time of its own choosing and have a nuclear bomb within a year.
That is why the next stage of the negotiations has to focus on curtailing the means of production. In other words, the reactor in Arak needs to be shut down and the number of centrifuges operating needs to be scaled back significantly. The Iranians don’t want to give that at the opening stage of the talks, and for good reason. As long as their production facilities are operating at their current rate, the threat of a nuclear Iran will continue to hover over our heads.

Yedioth Ahronoth, 21 Oct 2013, Nahum Barnea 

The prime minister’s father dedicated years of his life to studying the Conversos in Spain.  The Conversos [anusim in Hebrew, meaning “forced”—INT] were Jews who converted to Christianity, but continued to long secretly for their old religion.  They worshipped one God outside, and another God in their cellar.
There are cases in which a father’s research topics are passed on to his son.  This may be what happened to Benzion Netanyahu’s son, the politician.  He opposed the Oslo Accords and signed the Wye River Memorandum and the Hebron agreement; he opposed the disengagement from Gaza and voted in favor of it; he opposed the Shalit deal and embraced it warmly; he opposed the release of prisoners who were citizens of Israel and prisoners with blood on their hands as a gesture to Abu Mazen and agreed to this; he opposed Karnit Flug’s appointment as governor of the Bank of Israel and after four months of embarrassing delays, gave his blessing to the appointment.
This, more or less, is how the Conversos managed to survive in hostile surroundings.  Some of them produced a fairly successful career from their double lives.
There is nothing wrong with a pragmatic prime minister, who understands that in real life one cannot get everything one wants.  Sometimes one has to swallow a bitter pill, sometimes one has to compromise.  Netanyahu’s problem is the gap between his self-image, of a macho man, a firm and determined individual, whose principles are more important to him than his seat—and his behavior in reality.  “The prime minister instructed,” “the prime minister decided,” “the prime minister guided,” say the statements that are issued by his bureau.  There is no chance that a statement will ever be issued saying that “the prime minister was compelled,” “the prime minister changed his mind,” “the prime minister was forced.”
   Netanyahu’s determination dissipates as soon as it becomes clear to him that if he continues to persist he will pay a personal price.  This is his breaking point.  He is not the only politician who acts this way; if he is different from others, he is different in the effort he invests in repression.
   Unfortunately, the process that Netanyahu undergoes time and again is not a state secret.  The Iranian enemy knows, and that is why it responds dismissively to the threats from Israel; the American ally knows, and that is why John Kerry threatens to bring the faltering negotiations with the Palestinians to the moment of truth, the moment in which he will force Abu Mazen and Netanyahu to pay the price for evading decisions; and the ultra-right wing branch of the Likud also knows, and is preparing for battle.
   Zeev Elkin, Yariv Levin and their friends do not rely on Netanyahu’s hawkish statements and his staying power.  On the contrary, they rely on his weakness.  They believe that they will fend off the pressure that the Americans will apply to him by means of threats of their own.  Prior to the end of the six months of negotiations the Americans will demand that Netanyahu withdraw from more areas of the West Bank or accept a Security Council resolution on the establishment of a Palestinian state.  They believe that when Netanyahu is between a rock and a hard place, and has to choose between a crisis with the US and removal from the Likud, he will give in to them.
   To this day it is not known why Netanyahu disqualified Karnit Flug.  It is easier to know why he changed his mind: He understood that the sudden downturn in public support for Yair Lapid and his party was forcing Lapid to insist.  [Lapid] desperately needed a victory.  And Netanyahu realized that the public was casting most of the responsibility for the farce upon him.  Ninety-nine percent of the Israelis have no idea who Eckstein, Blejer, Medina or Flug are, or what the differences between them are.  They expect their prime minister to make a decision.  And when they believe that the decision pertains to their pocket, they are particularly agitated.
   Flug acted correctly when she decided to overlook the affront and take the post.  Losers are offended.  Winners have the last word.  She does not owe her appointment to anyone, and that is an excellent start for the governor of a central bank.

Yedioth Ahronoth, 21 Oct 2013, Yaron London 

“God is in the details”; experts have repeatedly used this cliche when talking about the agreement being worked out between Iran and the world powers.  With all due respect, I believe that dealing with the details obscures the trend to which the thinking mind should be paying attention.  The trend is brokering a compromise between the world powers and Iran, and preserving the Shiite state’s ability to build a nuclear weapon when it so chooses.  Will Israel suffer critical harm?
   The most horrific possibility is that the leaders of Iran, who prophecy an apocalypse from which a world subject to God’s rule will arise, will inflict a nuclear blow upon us without taking into consideration what will happen to their country.  The four horsemen of the apocalypse also ride in the minds of Christian fundamentalists, most of whom pose as Israel’s friends, and they appear in a similar version in the visions of delusional Israelis, those who wish to demolish the mosques on the Temple Mount.
   The vision of the Day of Judgment, not as a death wish but as a last choice, has also filtered into Israeli strategic thinking.  The proof of this was given in the past few days, in the series of films about the Yom Kippur War that was aired on Channel One.  The rumors about Moshe Dayan’s request to consider the use of nuclear weapons were confirmed in the filmed testimony of Ornan Azaryahu, the aide of then-minister Yisrael Galili.
   This disclosure does not harm Israel’s power of deterrence, because it teaches our enemies that the “Samson Option” is not an empty phrase.  The chance that the Iranians will cut their own throats just to see our throats cut is comparable to the chance that a meteor will strike and destroy all life on earth.  There is very little to do in order to fend off the cosmic danger, whereas we have been able to distance the Iranian peril, according to foreign reports, by means known as a “second strike capability.”  These are enough to reinforce the rational elements in the Iranian leadership.  Of course, one could write a script about a paranoid ayatollah who takes control of the nuclear trigger, but the history of the Cold War has proven that even ideological zealots are reluctant to turn the earth into dust.
   Another threat that Israel foresees is granting immunity to actions against Israel under the cover of an Iranian nuclear umbrella.  This strategy, of a war of attrition by proxy, was adopted by the two superpowers in the Cold War era, but the lesson is that the proxies fought as if there were no nuclear powers backing them.  The US did not withdraw from Vietnam for fear of a Soviet offensive, and the Soviet Union did not pull out of Afghanistan due to fear of ballistic missiles that could be fired from American silos.  Nuclear deterrence will not reduce Israel’s ability to strike at Hizbullah, or at Iran’s agents in Syria.
   Another more feasible possibility is that the Sunni Arab states will have an incentive to develop their own nuclear weapons.  A large number of players holding weapons of mass destruction increases the chance of an accident due to a technical failure, misreading the enemy’s intentions, or lethal materials falling into the hands of terror organizations.  It is not pleasant to live in an environment in which some of the residents hold nuclear weapons, but the paradox is that an intensification of the threat could extricate us from our loneliness.  Israel has long since explained that an Iran armed with nuclear weapons endangers the entire world, but our argument has not motivated the world powers to take violent preemptive action.  The situation will change as the danger grows.  A nuclear expanse that extends from Afghanistan to Cairo could convince the world where Israel has failed to convince it.
   Meanwhile, under the surface, a positive development from our point of view is taking place: The Sunni Arab states are forced to rely on the West and are strengthening their ties with Israel.  The Palestinian problem is being relegated to the sidelines and this reality enables Israel to cope with it under reduced pressure.  A separate question pertains to our ability and willingness to take advantage of the window of opportunity that has opened for us.

Ma’ariv, 20 Oct 2013, Shalom Yerushalmi 

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu walked slowly up to the speaker’s podium in the Knesset on Monday. While in his seat in the plenum, he had pored over what he was going to say until the last moment, changing and correcting, erasing and adding, occasionally asking his neighbor, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon—perhaps his only serious support left today in the government—for advice. On the podium, Netanyahu, as is his wont, gave a forceful speech on the Iranian issue, essentially continuing the aggressive tone with which his associate Tzahi Hanegbi had begun the interview with him which appeared in Ma’ariv last week (“Israel can and must attack Iran,” Hanegbi said.)
   At the end of the speech, Netanyahu addressed the Palestinian issue. Here too, the prime minister sent even more aggressive messages than in the past, which even earned the praise of Coalition Chairman MK Yariv Levin, the Likud ideologue.  “On the security level, it is becoming increasingly clear just how correct is our demand that in any arrangement, Israel be able to defend itself on its own,” the prime minister said. “While the Palestinians are demanding of us that we recognize the state of the Palestinian people, they refuse to recognize the state of the Jewish people. What’s so complicated about recognizing that simple historic fact?” Netanyahu asked.

   The simple fact is: Binyamin Netanyahu is in his most difficult position since the Western Wall tunnel affair during his first term, in September 1996. Netanyahu is not just alone, as described by the New York Times; he is isolated. The Americans are deserting him and joining the Iranian charm offensive in Geneva. A military strike by Obama? Nothing seems further away today. The negotiations with the Palestinians, having just begun, are in a serious crisis, and the talks are about to explode. Netanyahu understands this perfectly and is looking for footholds. His aggressive speech in the Knesset was also a call of despair to his fellow Likud members: “I want to come back home. Take me in.”
   On Tuesday, the Ma’ariv headline reported, for the first time, what is really happening in the talks with the Palestinians. Let’s review the main points. The sides began to discuss the core issues: borders, Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, etc. The issue of the borders quickly dominated the talks. It began when the Palestinians requested that the Israelis show them a map of the Palestinian state they intend to give them. The Israelis refused. They demanded to first discuss the ways in which the potential borders could be defended, before drawing them, and to reach an understanding on the security arrangements that Israel demands.
   A discussion began. The Israelis demanded that the IDF be permanently deployed along the Jordanian border. The Palestinians demanded that their forces alone be stationed in the Jordan Valley along the border, the way every country defends its independent borders. The Israelis refused outright. “We can give you a demilitarized country, without weapons,” they said. The Palestinians were outraged. “What is a demilitarized country? A prison? We’ll be closed to the east and to the west, with no airspace, no deep sea port, under your daily supervision. We prefer the present situation.” […]
The Next Step
   On Monday, shortly after the prime minister’s speech, the diligent Al-Jazeera correspondent, Elias Karam, interviewed Nimr Hammad, Abu Mazen’s political advisor and his closest associate. Hammad admitted the talks had stalled because of the Israelis’ positions. Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO Central Committee, was more decisive and detailed in her response. “Netanyahu wants to control the Palestinian state and its borders, border crossings and airspace, and flatly refuses to discuss the possibility of an international force in the Jordan Valley,” she said. “We cannot agree to this. From our point of view, this is a redefinition of the Israeli occupation, which wants to continue controlling our lives. We will not accept this in any form.”
   “All the talks focus on Israel’s security issues,” Ashrawi added. “Israel insists, entrenches itself in its positions and continues building settlements. The negotiations have produced no result so far.” The talks have reached an impasse, but what both Netanyahu and the Palestinians understood perfectly seems to have escaped Justice Minister Tzippi Livni, who is leading the negotiations. Livni gave an interview to Army Radio yesterday, but refused to give details about what was going on behind the close doors. She merely said that Israel had learned the lessons of the disengagement from Gaza, and will be able to protect its borders in the future. Livni, as well as Minister Amir Peretz, a member of her party, claimed that progress had been made in the talks.

    Back to Netanyahu. The prime minister once considered, not long ago, splitting  the Likud and running in a different political constellation. He raised the idea in discussions with several ministers. Later he realized that dismantling the reactor at Natanz would be easier than dismantling his own party, and that only a few would join him should he attempt to walk the moderate path of Ariel Sharon. Netanyahu tried, as we remember, to compete with Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon for the Likud presidency, and after weighing his chances, backed down. These actions awakened the grass roots Likud against Netanyahu. Meanwhile, the party’s three most important institutions have been taken over by three men who oppose any compromise with the Palestinians—Minister Yisrael Katz and Deputy Ministers Zeev Elkin and Danon. These three, with the others, set Netanyahu limited room to maneuver in the peace process.
   The release of the prisoners in mid-August in exchange for the renewal of the peace talks was, it appears, a dramatic turning point in Netanyahu’s term. The Americans discerned that the prime minister was ready to make far-reaching concessions, and perhaps an opportunity to sever him from the right in favor of the negotiations with Palestinians. Netanyahu felt trapped. He will not accept Palestinian demands in the Jordan Valley a long time before the essentials talks are held on the right of return, Jerusalem and the settlements. The Palestinians refuse even to lease the Jordan Valley to Israel. According to one senior official, Netanyahu regrets the prisoner release. Even the Americans have despaired of him. Yair Lapid, who was in the US last week and met with senior administration officials there, can’t stop talking about how Vice President Joe Biden said to him, you’re the next thing.”

  Since there is no point to the negotiations, Netanyahu does not want to also lose his political base. Today, he needs the Likud more than he ever did. These are no longer the days when he could make, with ease, any political combination he wanted, as he did with the Gesher and Tzomet parties before the 1992 elections. Today, he is menaced by Avigdor Lieberman, who is threatening to dismantle his coalition unless he becomes an integral part of the Likud. Netanyahu wants to force this alliance on his fellow party members, but before doing so, he must change his tune [on making peace]. MKs Elkin, Danon Hotovely, Levin, Feiglin and the others repeatedly say, “anyone who gives up [parts of the Land of Israel] will be left outside.” Netanyahu doesn’t want to be outside anymore, but rather inside, deep inside.
   The possible failure of the talks with the Palestinians will be Netanyahu’s renewed entrance ticket into his enraged party. Expect a Likud Central Committee at which Netanyahu will give a festive speech and announce: “I did not concede, neither on Israel’s borders nor on its security. I remained faithful to the Likud’s principles.” The ceiling of the conference hall will fly off, and with it, the peace process and  relations with the United States. How did Netanyahu put it? “If we remain alone, we’ll manage alone.” It seems he was right. […]

Yedioth Ahronoth, 18 Oct 2013, Shimon Shiffer 

“I drank the cup of poison,” said Iran’s spiritual leader Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989, describing his consent to a cease-fire in the bloody war with Iraq.  Now, with an ironic smile, it can be said that the talks between the Islamic republic and the world powers will also require Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to drink the cup of poison that the parties have designated for him—the world, so it seems, has turned in Iran’s direction.
   The two days of talks that were held this week in Geneva between representatives of the world powers and their counterparts from Iran, which discussed the suspension of the Iranian nuclear project in exchange for lifting the sanctions imposed by the West on the ayatollah regime in Tehran, left decision-makers in Israel troubled, concerned—and mainly in the dark.  However, it can already be assumed that no agreement that will be reached at the end of the talks will cause officials in Jerusalem to smile, and it will be implemented in spite of Israel’s objections.
   However, a high-ranking political-security official in Israel who is privy to the secret discussions on the Iranian threat explained that focusing on the agreement for suspending the nuclear project misses the real story.  He said that the focus is the talks between Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman—who is nicknamed “the killer” behind her back—and senior Iranian official Abbas Araghchi.  These two are full partners to three secret dialogue channels that were established in the past year between the US and Iran, the aim of which is to examine the possibility of normalization between Washington and Tehran.  “The Americans carefully safeguard the content of the talks with the Iranians,” says the high-ranking Israeli official.  “They don’t tell us what is happening there, and they don’t tell the British and the French either.”

   As far as the nuclear program is concerned, Israeli officials assess that a guiding principle for an agreement is being worked out in the talks between the Americans and the Iranians: President Barack Obama’s administration will permit the government in Tehran to continue enriching uranium to a 3.5% level, in exchange for their willingness to stop the enrichment to a 20% level and in exchange for opening their nuclear facilities to international inspection.  And if that were not enough, the Americans are also willing to examine a reduction of the economic sanctions and a series of humanitarian relief measures, in the context of good will gestures and confidence building measures.  For example, the US could unfreeze some of the assets and funds, valued at trillions of dollars, which are held in banks in the US and were confiscated after the Islamic revolution of 1979 in Iran.  The Israeli official said, “this rapprochement between Washington and Tehran is a cause of genuine concern for us.” […]
   Netanyahu, for his part, intends to tell US Secretary of State John Kerry next week in their meeting in Rome that Israel will do everything in its power to prevent changes in the sanctions regime.  Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, who met with his American counterpart and with top CIA officials, demanded that [the US] insist on having the Iranians stop the uranium enrichment to a 20% level before any consent is given to ease the sanctions.  In addition, Israel is demanding to remove from Iran the centrifuges already manufactured and to close the nuclear sites in Fordow, Parchin and Arak.
   “Will there be an agreement in the end?” I asked a Western diplomat who met the Iranian team to the talks.  “It’s not at all certain,” he replied.  “They are negotiating in the salami method, and they discern a strong desire, even haste, on the part of the world powers [to reach an agreement].  But it should be remembered that the agreement will only reach fruition after they sign it—and it should be made clear to the Iranians that if they try to deceive us, they will be punished by the destruction of the facilities that they tried to build under the cover of the negotiations.”

Ma’ariv, 17 Oct 2013, Dr.  Emily Landau (The author is the director of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at the Institute for National Security Studies)
   The talks in Geneva ended with a joint announcement to the press, and as could be expected, with optimistic statements about the expected progress and expectation of another meeting in a few weeks in order to examine the technical details of the various proposals in depth.  What we did not hear were many details about the actual proposals.  If that sounds familiar, that’s because there was a similar dynamic in the past. Except for the more relaxed tones and the demonstratively positive approach, there is nothing significant of substance this time that we didn’t have in the previous rounds in 2012 and earlier this year in the talks in Kazakhstan. Gary Samore, until recently the key person in the Obama administration for the Iranian issue, is of the impression that there is no significant change in the Iranian proposal compared to previous proposals in the past, when Ahmadinejad was Iranian president.  
   One principal question has to be at the heart of the negotiations with Iran on the nuclear issue: this question is not whether Iran is willing to make preliminary concessions in the nuclear context, but rather whether it has made a decision to back down from its plan to develop a military nuclear capability. It’s a bit hard to conduct negotiations on something that Iran fervently says that it is not doing and never did. And that’s why, in order to examine the matter, it is necessary to translate what is fairly obvious that Iran is doing in the nuclear context—i.e., taking steps to develop military nuclear capability—into specific issues relating to the most problematic aspects of its plan. And it is on these matters that there must be insistence, before thinking of easing the sanctions.
   The correct way to examine the talks is through the prism of the art of negotiation. As long as there is no indication that Iran has changed direction in its nuclear plans and has decided to give up its intent to develop military nuclear capability, all of its proposals should be seen as tactical steps in the negotiations with the international community. Therefore, it can reasonably be assumed that Iran’s main goal in these talks is to lift the painful sanctions. It wants to make the minimum concessions in its nuclear program and to get maximum easing of the economic and financial sanctions. Iran has probably also realized that tactically, it is more effective to show a welcoming face than a defiant one. One can propose insignificant concessions with a smile, and this makes it harder for the other side to turn these concessions down.
   And what about Israel’s position? As part of the Iranian tactics, if Israel is perceived as being the only one that is vehemently opposed to what is taking place in the talks, it will be easy to push its arguments to the sidelines and to portray it as a side whose positions do not correspond to those of the rest of the world. In this context, it should be mentioned that Israel’s positions, as presented by Netanyahu in New York a few weeks ago, correspond in full to the declared positions of the US, including the matter of not enriching uranium in Iranian territory, as stated by Susan Rice at the end of September this year. Israel’s frustration is understandable: it is not sitting at the negotiating table with Iran but will particularly suffer from the negative consequences of a “bad deal” with it. That said, it is better not to stand out  in such a way that makes it easier for Iran to push Israel to the sidelines; Israel should relay its principal messages to the countries leading the talks by quiet means.


The exchange of blows between Ankara and Jerusalem escalated last night. A high-ranking Israeli political official lambasted the Turks over the exposure of the spy ring in Iran. “Erdogan is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, a supporter of Hamas and is anti-Israel, not to say an anti-Semite,  he has no real intention of rehabilitating relations with us,” said the high-ranking political official to Channel Ten News. “We have no expectations from him.”
   MK Avigdor Lieberman, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said last night that Turkey was not interested in improving relations with Israel. “I believed that the apology for the flotilla would only damage Israel’s standing in the region and would play into the hands of the extremist elements in the Middle East, among which Turkey under Erdogan, the extremist Islamist,” wrote Lieberman on Facebook. “I am not surprised by Turkey’s accusations as if Israel were behind the report in the Washington Post, and I don’t know if there even was such a spy ring,” wrote Lieberman in a first public comment on the issue by an Israeli official.
   “This Turkish accusation, as if Israel were behind the report so as to avoid paying compensation to the participants of the Marmara flotilla, like the previous accusation as if Israel had been behind the riots by Turkish demonstrators in Taksim Square and Erdogan’s comments about how he has ‘documents and proof’ that Israel was behind the coup in Egypt, is devoid of any basis and proves once again that Turkey under Erdogan’s leadership is not interested in improving relations with Israel,” wrote Lieberman.
   “That is why I hope that we will all stop deluding ourselves and understand the reality in which we live and the difference between what we’d like to exist and what does exist,” wrote Lieberman in conclusion. “My opposition to the apology to Turkey is not new and I expressed it clearly both before and after it was done.”
   Turkish intelligence officials claimed that Israel was responsible for the report, and said that they believed this was a campaign that Israel was staging in order to avoid having to pay damages to the victims of the flotilla to Gaza as Israel undertook to do. According to a report in the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, officials in Ankara drew a link between this most recent report and other reports in the American media against the Turkish intelligence service.

Senior Israeli official: The Director of Turkish Intelligence is an Anti-Semite
   While Turkey began to intimate that “forces in the region” that wanted to sabotage Turkey’s standing in the Middle East had brought about the report because of the “moderate political atmosphere in the aftermath of Hassan Rouhani’s election,” a high-ranking Israeli security official fired back in the direction of Hakan Fidan, the director of the Turkish intelligence agency, MIT. According to the report in the Washington Post, Fidan has close ties with the regime in Tehran.
   According to the report, Israeli intelligence officials referred to Fidan in in conversations with the Americans as the head of Iranian intelligence in Ankara. “Hakan Fidan is an anti-Semite and an Islamist who consorts with the worst of our enemies,” the high-ranking security official told Channel Ten News. “With Fidan it isn’t that we need to respect and suspect him, but that we need to suspect and suspect him, and the spirit of his leadership is anti-Semitic and Islamist.”

Ma’ariv, 20 Oct 2013, Amnon Lord

The road to a final status arrangement runs through an interim agreement. And the existing interim agreement appears to be the final status arrangement. The more details we hear—if you call the highly partial leaks from the negotiations’ “details” —the stronger the impression that Israel is demanding that which it now has. It is not insisting on sovereignty in the Jordan Valley, but talks of “leasing.” And after all, doesn’t Israel currently control the Jordan Valley—albeit without a lease, but without sovereignty either?
   The addition to the status quo must make the current agreement dynamic, i.e., it has to initiate a process whereby the longer the security situation stays calm, and the deeper that calm is, the more “rights” are given to the Palestinians. It goes without saying that a situation in which Israel is the side that “grants” rights to the Palestinians is no good. It’s an unnatural and unjust situation, but it’s a process that works.
  In the end, a situation has to be reached in which the Palestinians have a degree of freedom of movement which, even if not complete, is more or less on the level of that of the Jews—in all parts of the State of Israel. The preference will be that there be more sources of income and development in the territories of the Palestinian Authority, so that people prefer to work within its borders. And the same goes for the area of Israeli legal jurisdiction.

   All this, in a dynamic process initiated from our side. After all, we will have no choice but to confront reality. The Palestinian side won’t help us reach that interim agreement in which Israel really does give up territories, but without giving the Palestinians everything they demand. It seems that the son of an Arab, of a Christian and my son will be able to live together in relative freedom and security only under the conditions existing today.
   One could almost say that Netanyahu’s peace is a peace of trial and error—without carrying out large experiments on human beings: checking what works but without evacuating [territories] and without losing control of the security situation. At the other end of the spectrum is the method of “agreement at any price.” More and more, it seems that this method leads to an explosion. Its adherents are very strong forces within Israel and obviously also on the American side.
   When the Palestinians oppose an idea put forward by Israel, according to last week’s reports, they apparently rely on an understanding with the Americans, for example, on the issue of the Jordan Valley. But the Americans apparently have a similar tendency with regard to any territory Israel might cede: they speak of “foreign forces” that will buttress security in the Jordan Valley and the other areas. This is completely in opposition to one of the principles outlined by Netanyahu.
   Conclusion: when Abu Mazen rejects an Israeli proposal for a long-term lease, he does so under American cover. This is not the most important issue in the negotiations, but it demonstrates how far apart the two sides’ positions are and how impossible it is, today, to reach the final status arrangement the international community is talking about. True, it’s good that negotiations are happening. But we shouldn’t take them too seriously. It’s not that the two-state solution is dead. The story is a bit different: the Palestinian moment in history was missed. The Palestinians had their moment in history, and it wasn’t during the Olmert period. It was in Camp David in July of 2000. The moment came and Arafat made his decision: he embarked on a war of terror. Ever since, the Palestinian issue has been fading, with moments of high and low tide, and even if they return to the option so many Israelis are afraid of—a renewed appeal to the UN and international institutions—it will be nothing more than political harassment.

Ma’ariv, 17 Oct 2013, Shalom Yerushalmi 
Ma’ariv has learned that Israel proposed to the Palestinians during the negotiations that Israel transfer the Jordan Valley to them but lease it from them for decades. The Palestinians adamantly refused, and the Jordanians also refused an Israeli demand to deploy the IDF along the border. “No Israeli soldiers will be there,” said yesterday Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Fatah Central Committee. “We will not agree to [Israeli] control and we will not lease land. We will not take part in redefining the Israeli occupation.”
   Ma’ariv reported first on Tuesday, that the talks with the Palestinians were on the verge of breaking up because of the Jordan Valley, only two months after starting. This came after the sides started to discuss the core issues: borders, Jerusalem, refugees, settlements and more. The issue of borders very quickly took up most of the talks, after the Palestinians demanded of the Israelis that they show a map of the state they are willing to give them. The Israelis demanded that they talk about ways to defend the borders before drawing them up, and to reach understandings on the issue of the security arrangements.
   In the course of the meeting, the Israelis demanded that the IDF be permanently deployed on the border with Jordan.  The Palestinians demanded that only their forces be deployed on the Jordan Valley border. The Israelis firmly refused. “We are willing to let you have a demilitarized state, without weapons,” they said. The Palestinians were outraged. “What is a demilitarized state? A cage? We will be closed from the east and from the west, with no air space, with no deep water port, with daily supervision by you. Even the current situation is better,” they replied. “The Americans’ attempts to talk about international forces were flatly rejected by Israel. “In any arrangement, Israel must be able to defend itself with its own forces, against any threat, without relying on foreign forces,” Netanyahu made the Israeli position clear on Monday in his Knesset speech.
   At some stage the Israelis on the negotiating team raised a surprising solution: Israel would lease the Jordan Valley for decades from the PA. Such an arrangement exists between Israel and Jordan, which signed a peace agreement in October 1994. According to that agreement, Israel leases a 400 square kilometer enclave in the Arava, and in the Naharayim area. The Palestinians also refused this proposal. Two days ago, in an interview to Al-Jazeera, Abu Mazen’s adviser and his closest associate, Nimr Hamad, said that the negotiations were in crisis because of the Israelis’ positions.
   Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, confirmed the exclusive report in Ma’ariv. “Netanyahu wants to control the Palestinian state and its borders, the crossings and the air space, and adamantly refuses to discuss the possibility of deploying international forces in the Jordan Valley,” she said. “We cannot agree to this. As far as we are concerned, this would be redefining the Israeli occupation which wants to besiege us again and control our lives. We will not accept this in any form.” She said, “all the talks are focusing on issues of Israel’s security. Israel is being insistent, is hunkering down in its positions and continues to build settlements. The negotiations have not yet led to anything.”
   Matters have reached an impasse, but what Netanyahu and the Palestinians realize very well, seems to have gone unnoticed by Justice Minister Tzippi Livni, who is heading the talks for Israel. Livni said after the Ma’ariv report that this was gossip. Yesterday Minister Amir Peretz, from Livni’s party, said that there was progress in the talks. “I am optimistic,” Peretz said. Happy is he who believes.

Makor Rishon, 17 Oct 2013, Ariel Kahane 
A new Israeli proposal has been put forward in an attempt to advance the negotiations with the Palestinians in light of the impasse that apparently has been reached in the talks. The Israeli political echelon has begun to examine new ideas that might allow for some agreements, even limited agreements, to be reached with the Palestinians, since a final status arrangement and even an interim agreement appear now to be out of reach, so as to prevent the talks from dying. Makor Rishon has learned that one of the proposals being considered by Israel is “annexation in exchange for annexation,” which means receiving Palestinian consent for Israel to annex certain parts of Judea and Samaria in exchange for turning other areas over to Palestinian control.
   At this stage, the idea is a general one, but an Israeli source spoke with Makor Rishon about the possibility of annexing the Etzion Bloc in exchange for turning over territory in the Nablus area to the Palestinians. It should be underscored that at issue is not the veteran idea of a “land swap,” since that idea is predicated on Israel’s turning over land from inside smaller [i.e., sovereign] Israel in exchange for recognition of the settlement blocs.
   A large number of Israeli sources have said that, for the time being, the Livni-Erekat talks have yielded no results. The parties repeat their consistent positions, and have been unable to bridge the gaps.
   The Israelis are searching for a way to prevent the talks from being derailed in a manner that might result in the blame being laid at Israel’s doorstep. Israeli officials are afraid of an American position paper being presented towards the end of the period of time that has been allotted to the talks, citing parameters [for a final status arrangement] that will be difficult for Israel [to accept]. That said, Prime Minister Netanyahu has stressed in talks that he will not agree to make any concessions on the issue of security. One of his demands has been a lengthy Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley, which is a position that the Palestinians have rejected out of hand.
   In light of the standstill in the talks, Netanyahu has also said that he would be prepared and willing to try to reach a temporary agreement with the Palestinians, but PA Chairman Abu Mazen has remained firmly opposed to that option. It is against that backdrop, and as a result of a desire to put an end to the one-sided pattern that was established in the Oslo, in which Israel gave up territory and received nothing palpable in return, that the above-cited proposal has come to be considered. The chances of it’s being accepted do not appear to be very high for the time being.
   The assessment within the Israeli political establishment is that once the period of time allotted to the negotiations draws near, the Americans are likely to take far clearer positions on the content of what they believe would be a desirable agreement and, by so doing, to place the burden of blame, in practice, on one side.

Ma’ariv, 17 Oct 2013, Eli Bardenstein 
The EU is cooperating with Israel in an attempt to find a solution to circumvent the restrictions imposed by the European Commission on funding for Israeli institutions working beyond the Green Line. The main reason that the Europeans are seeking a way to back down, at least partially, is because they want to see Israel taking part in the huge Horizon 2020 science project, which is one of the EU’s flagship programs.
   Europe cannot cancel the sanctions, and that’s why both sides are looking for creative solutions that will make it possible to have it both ways —in other words, keep the sanctions in place but get around them by various means. The first idea, raised by the Israeli side, is meant to find a solution to the European demand that any institution that desires funding must declare that it does not work beyond the Green Line and undertake that the money it receives will only be used for activity within the Green Line. The Foreign Ministry proposed that the European Commission decide what the location is of any institution requesting funding based on the zip code of its main place of activity. A high-ranking official in Jerusalem explained that this proposal places the burden of proof on the Europeans. So instead of the Israeli institution’s having to prove that it is not active beyond the 1967 borders, the Europeans would be the ones to check this.
   The second proposal, made by the European side, has to do with funding for Israeli institutions that have only limited and indirect activity beyond the Green Line—for example, banks that have branches in East Jerusalem, gas companies with stations in Judea and Samaria, health funds, supermarket chains, the Israel Postal Company, academic centers, and more. According to the current rules, such institutions are not eligible for funding. The Europeans are proposing that these institutions set up subsidiaries for the projects for which they are asking funding, and thus bypass the problem.
   Despite the mutual wish to resolve the problems, there are still disagreements. The Europeans say that the zip code method proposed by Israel does not really ensure that institutions seeking funding are only active inside the Green Line, whereas Israel claims that the idea of subsidiaries is not practical for small companies, which would find this difficult to achieve. That said, the fact that both sides are cooperating and want to solve the problem before the European Commission guidelines go into effect in January 2014, are grounds for optimism.
   The main catalyst to an agreement between the sides is, as said, the Horizon 2020 project. The Europeans very much want Israel to take part in this scientific project because of its proven ability in this sphere. If the cooperation works out, Israel will transfer more than 600 million euros to the EU project over the next seven years, but in return, will receive about one billion euros for scientific and technological projects.
   In meetings that were held at the Foreign Ministry and in the Prime Minister’s Bureau after the European Commission issued its guidelines, all agreed that Israel could not sign new agreements with the EU based on these directives. On the other hand, Israel recognizes that it is not possible to cancel them officially, and that in any case, cooperation with the EU cannot be halted because of them. That is why it was decided to seek creative solutions, and Jerusalem is encouraged by the fact that the Europeans have reached a similar conclusion.
   One of the signs that cooperation between Israel and the EU can be expected to continue is the scheduled visit on Sunday of EU Commission Vice President for Industry and Entrepreneurship Antonio Tajani. Tajani will arrive in Israel accompanied by 65 representatives of European companies and industrial organizations with the goal of encouraging business cooperation between the sides. In the course of his visit Tajani will meet with President Shimon Peres and with ministers Silvan Shalom, Uzi Landau and Naftali Bennett. 

Ma’ariv, 18 Oct, 2013, Eli Bardenstein 

In the wake of the weaker relations between the US and the new government in Egypt, Russia is expected to try to fill, at least partially, the vacuum left by Washington. It is common knowledge that during the Cold War, the USSR provided Egypt with economic, political and military aid; this time around—it is important to note—Russia’s support is to a lesser extent, yet the Russians are nevertheless determined to strengthen their position in the region, and are willing to invest efforts and resources to do so. Moscow is now taking steps to reestablish its standing in the Middle East, and Egypt is emerging as the central axis of its diplomatic maneuvers.
   As will be recalled, Washington announced that it was freezing military aid to Egypt because of its displeasure with the military government’s actions against the Muslim Brotherhood. The Obama administration considers these actions as directly contradicting the basic premises of the democracy that it hopes will arise in Egypt. In addition, the Russian success in Syria, where the Kremlin’s initiative led to a deal between the US and the Assad regime on the chemical weapons, raised Russia’s standing in the region, to the detriment of Washington, and encouraged the Russians to strive more energetically to reoccupy their historical position in the Middle East.
   Egypt, the largest and most important Arab country, is a natural target for Russia. “US-Egypt relations are going through a crisis that is likely to harm the entire Middle East,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy told the Egyptian Al-Ahramnewspaper. From the Russians’ point of view, this is an opportunity. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is scheduled to visit Cairo at the beginning of November, and a visit by President Putin may follow.
   Director of the Russian MFA Department for Middle East Sergey Vershinin raised the issue of the US freezing its aid to Egypt in meetings held in Israel this week, and expressed deep anxiety that if the Egyptians did not receive the money from some alternate source, the country’s already weak economic situation would deteriorate even further, leading to instability. He confirmed to his Israeli interlocutors that Foreign Minister Lavrov would indeed visit Cairo soon, and even mentioned Russia’s intention to renew and upgrade its cooperation with Egypt. At the same time, Vershinin stressed that Moscow would not be able to restore the level of support afforded to Egypt in the past by the USSR. “We won’t go back to the days when we built the Aswan Dam,” he said in talks with his Israeli counterparts. […]  
   Even though officials in Jerusalem harbor fears that Russia will reassume a full-scale role in the Middle East, the Russians have made it clear that in at least one area, it relations with Israel will not be harmed: that of economic cooperation, which they consider to be of prime importance. Putin himself raised this issue in a meeting with Netanyahu in Sochi last year, and the prime minister is expected to convene a joint economic committee, with the participation of both countries, in November.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Full text Netanyahu’s 2013 speech to the UN General Assembly

The following comes in from one of the NCF Board members:

To understand Israel's skepticism about President Rouhani, one only has to read Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech at the United Nations on Tuesday. While Brazil's president got the silver star for her undiplomatic blast at the US for spying on herself and her fellow citizens, Bibi certainly earned the gold for his sometimes intemperate tirade against Iran's President Rouhani. 

In doing so, he laid out his case against Rouhani and Iran, essentially calling the former a wily liar while accusing Iran of using guile and deceit to distract a gullible world from its true intentions -- to develop nuclear weapons and a capability to deliver them even to New York.

The speech is well-written and the arguments Bibi makes are plausible. One presumes that the Iranians did not stay in the Assembly to hear them. The Israelis had stormed out on Rohani's address last week; one would expect Iran to have returned the favor.

Full text Netanyahu’s 2013 speech to the UN General Assembly

Remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu During the General Debate of the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

The United Nations, New York City.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Thank you, Mr. President.

I feel deeply honored and privileged to stand here before you today representing the citizens of the state of Israel.

We are an ancient people. We date back nearly 4,000 years to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We have journeyed through time. We’ve overcome the greatest of adversities.
And we re-established our sovereign state in our ancestral homeland, the land of Israel.

Now, the Jewish people’s odyssey through time has taught us two things: Never give up hope, always remain vigilant. Hope charts the future. Vigilance protects it.

Today our hope for the future is challenged by a nuclear-armed Iran that seeks our destruction. But I want you to know, that wasn’t always the case.

Some 2,500 years ago the great Persian king Cyrus ended the Babylonian exile of the Jewish people. He issued a famous edict in which he proclaimed the right of the Jews to return to the land of Israel and rebuild the Jewish temple in Jerusalem.

That’s a Persian decree. And thus began an historic friendship between the Jews and the Persians that lasted until modern times.

But in 1979 a radical regime in Tehran tried to stamp out that friendship. As it was busy crushing the Iranian people’s hope for democracy, it always led wild chants of “death of the Jews.”

Now, since that time, presidents of Iran have come and gone. Some presidents were considered moderates, other hard-liners. But they’ve all served that same unforgiving creed, that same unforgiving regime, that creed that is espoused and enforced by the real power in Iran, the dictator known as the supreme leader, first Ayatollah Khomeini and now Ayatollah Khamenei.

President Rouhani, like the presidents who came before him, is a loyal servant of the regime. He was one of only six candidates the regime permitted to run for office. See, nearly 700 other candidates were rejected.

So what made him acceptable? Well, Rouhani headed Iran’s Supreme National Security Council from 1989 through 2003. During that time Iran’s henchmen gunned down opposition leaders in a Berlin restaurant. They murdered 85 people at the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. They killed 19 American soldiers by blowing up the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia.

Are we to believe that Rouhani, the national security adviser of Iran at the time, knew nothing about these attacks?

Of course he did, just as 30 years ago Iran’s security chiefs knew about the bombings in Beirut that killed 241 American Marines and 58 French paratroopers.

Rouhani was also Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator between 2003 and 2005. He masterminded the — the strategy which enabled Iran to advance its nuclear weapons program behind a smoke screen of diplomatic engagement and very soothing rhetoric.

Now I know: Rouhani doesn’t sound like Ahmadinejad. But when it comes to Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the only difference between them is this: Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf’s clothing. Rouhani is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a wolf who thinks he can pull the eyes — the wool over the eyes of the international community.

Well, like everyone else, I wish we could believe Rouhani’s words, but we must focus on Iran’s actions. And it’s the brazen contrast, this extraordinary contradiction, between Rouhani’s words and Iran’s actions that is so startling.

Rouhani stood at this very podium last week and praised Iranian democracy — Iranian democracies. But the regime that he represents executes political dissidents by the hundreds and jails them by the thousands.

Rouhani spoke of, quote, “the human tragedy in Syria.” Yet, Iran directly participates in Assad’s murder and massacre of tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children in Syria. And that regime is propping up a Syrian regime that just used chemical weapons against its own people.

Rouhani condemned the, quote, “violent scourge of terrorism.” Yet, in the last three years alone, Iran has ordered, planned or perpetrated terrorist attacks in 25 cities in five continents.

Rouhani denounces, quote, “attempts to change the regional balance through proxies.” Yet, Iran is actively destabilizing Lebanon, Yemen, Bahrain and many other Middle Eastern countries.

Rouhani promises, quote, “constructive engagement with other countries.” Yet, two years ago, Iranian agents tried to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in Washington, D.C. And just three weeks ago, an Iranian agent was arrested trying to collect information for possible attacks against the American embassy in Tel Aviv. Some constructive engagement.

I wish I could be moved by Rouhani’s invitation to join his wave — a world against violence and extremism. Yet, the only waves Iran has generated in the last 30 years are waves of violence and terrorism that it has unleashed in the region and across the world.

Ladies and gentlemen, I wish I could believe Rouhani, but I don’t because facts are stubborn things, and the facts are that Iran’s savage record flatly contradicts Rouhani’s soothing rhetoric.

Last Friday Rouhani assured us that in pursuit of its nuclear program, Iran — this is a quote — Iran has never chosen deceit and secrecy, never chosen deceit and secrecy.

Well, in 2002 Iran was caught red-handed secretly building an underground centrifuge facility in Natanz. And then in 2009 Iran was again caught red-handed secretly building a huge underground nuclear facility for uranium enrichment in a mountain near Qom.

Rouhani tells us not to worry. He assures us that all of this is not intended for nuclear weapons. Any of you believe that?

If you believe that, here’s a few questions you might want to ask. Why would a country that claims to only want peaceful nuclear energy, why would such a country build hidden underground enrichment facilities?

Why would a country with vast natural energy reserves invest billions in developing nuclear energy? Why would a country intent on merely civilian nuclear programs continue to defy multiple Security Council resolutions and incur the tremendous cost of crippling sanctions on its economy?

And why would a country with a peaceful nuclear program develop intercontinental ballistic missiles, whose sole purpose is to deliver nuclear warheads? You don’t build ICBMs to carry TNT thousands of miles away; you build them for one purpose, to carry nuclear warheads.

And Iran is building now ICBMs that the United States says could reach this city in three or four years.

Why would they do all this? The answer is simple. Iran is not building a peaceful nuclear program; Iran is developing nuclear weapons.

Last year alone, Iran enriched three tons of uranium to 3 1/2 percent, doubled it stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium and added thousands of new centrifuges, including advanced centrifuges.

It also continued work on the heavy water reactor in Iraq; that’s in order to have another route to the bomb, a plutonium path. And since Rouhani’s election — and I stress this — this vast and feverish effort has continued unabated.

Ladies and gentlemen, underground nuclear facilities, heavy water reactors, advanced centrifuges, ICMBs. See, it’s not that it’s hard to find evidence that Iran has a nuclear program, a nuclear weapons program; it’s hard to find evidence that Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapons program.

Last year when I spoke here at the U.N. I drew a red line. Now, Iran has been very careful not to cross that line but Iran is positioning itself to race across that line in the future at a time of its choosing. Iran wants to be in a position to rush forward to build nuclear bombs before the international community can detect it and much less prevent it.

Yet Iran faces one big problem, and that problem can be summed up in one word: sanctions. I have argued for many years, including on this podium, that the only way to peacefully prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons is to combine tough sanctions with a credible military threat. And that policy today is bearing fruit.

Thanks to the efforts of many countries, many represented here, and under the leadership of the United States, tough sanctions have taken a big bite off the Iranian economy.

Oil revenues have fallen. The currency has plummeted. Banks are hard-pressed to transfer money. So as a result, the regime is under intense pressure from the Iranian people to get the sanctions relieved or removed.

That’s why Rouhani got elected in the first place.

That’s why he launched his charm offensive. He definitely wants to get the sanctions lifted; I guarantee you that. But he doesn’t want to give up Iranians’ nuclear — Iran’s nuclear weapons program in return.

Now here’s a strategy to achieve this.

  • First, smile a lot. Smiling never hurts. 
  • Second, pay lip service to peace, democracy and tolerance. 
  • Third, offer meaningless concessions in exchange for lifting sanctions. 
  • And fourth, and the most important, ensure that Iran retains sufficient nuclear material and sufficient nuclear infrastructure to race to the bomb at a time it chooses to do so.

Do you know why Rouhani thinks he can get away with this? I mean, this is a ruse. It’s a ploy. Why does Rouhani think he — thinks he can get away with it? Because — because he’s gotten away with it before, because his strategy of talking a lot and doing little has worked for him in the past.

He even brags about this. Here’s what he said in his 2011 book about his time as Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, and I quote: “While we were talking to the Europeans in Tehran, we were installing equipment in Isfahan.”

Now, for those of you who don’t know, the Isfahan facility is an indispensable part of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. That’s where uranium ore called yellowcake is converted into an enrichable form. 

Rouhani boasted, and I quote, “By creating a calm environment — a calm environment — we were able to complete the work in Isfahan.” 

He fooled the world once. Now he thinks he can fool it again.

You see, Rouhani thinks he can have his yellowcake and eat it too. And he has another reason to believe that he can get away with this. And that reason is called North Korea. 

Like Iran, North Korea also said its nuclear program was for peaceful purposes. Like Iran, North Korea also offered meaningless concessions and empty promises in return for sanctions relief.

In 2005 North Korea agreed to a deal that was celebrated the world over by many well-meaning people. Here’s what the New York Times editorial had to say about it, quote: “For years now, foreign policy insiders have pointed to North Korea as the ultimate nightmare, a closed, hostile and paranoid dictatorship with an aggressive nuclear weapons program. Very few could envision a successful outcome, and yet North Korea agreed in principle this week to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, return to the NPT, abide by the treaty’s safeguards and admit international inspectors.”
And finally, “diplomacy, it seems, does work after all. 

Ladies and gentlemen, a year later, North Korea exploded its first nuclear weapons device.”
Yet, as dangerous as a nuclear-armed North Korea is, it pales in comparison to the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran. A nuclear-armed Iran would have a choke hold on the world’s main energy supplies. It would trigger nuclear proliferation throughout the Middle East, turning the most unstable part of the planet into a nuclear tinderbox. And for the first time in history, it would make the specter of nuclear terrorism a clear and present danger. A nuclear-armed Iran in the Middle East wouldn’t be another North Korea. It would be another 50 North Koreas.
Now, I know that some in the international community think I’m exaggerating this threat. Sure, they know that Iran’s regime leads these chants, “death to America, death to Israel,” that it pledges to wipe Israel off the map. But they think that this wild rhetoric is just bluster for domestic consumption. Have these people learned nothing from history? The last century has taught us that when a radical regime with global ambitions gets awesome power, sooner or later its appetite for aggression knows no bounds.
That’s the central lesson of the 20th century. And we cannot forget it. The world may have forgotten this lesson. The Jewish people have not.

Iran’s fanaticism is not bluster. It’s real. The fanatic regime must never be allowed to arm itself with nuclear weapons. I know that the world is weary of war. We in Israel, we know all too well the cost of war. But history has taught us that to prevent war tomorrow, we must be firm today.

And this raises the question, can diplomacy stop this threat? Well, the only diplomatic solution that would work is one that fully dismantles Iran’s nuclear weapons program and prevents it from having one in the future.

President Obama rightly said that Iran’s conciliatory words must be matched by transparent, verifiable and meaningful action. And to be meaningful, a diplomatic solution would require Iran to do four things. 

  • First, cease all uranium enrichment. This is called for by several Security Council resolutions. 
  • Second, remove from Iran’s territory the stockpiles of enriched uranium. 
  • Third, dismantle the infrastructure for nuclear breakout capability, including the underground facility at Qom and the advanced centrifuges in Natanz.
  • And, four, stop all work at the heavy water reactor in Iraq aimed at the production of plutonium. These steps would put an end to Iran’s nuclear weapons program and eliminate its breakout capability.

There are those who would readily agreed to leave Iran with a residual capability to enrich uranium. I advise them to pay close attention to what Rouhani said in his speech to Iran’s supreme cultural revolution — Supreme Cultural Revolutionary Council. This was published in 2005. I quote. This is what he said:
“A county that could enrich uranium to about 3.5 percent will also have the capability to enrich it to about 90 percent. Having fuel cycle capability virtually means that a country that possesses this capability is able to produce nuclear weapons.” Precisely. This is why Iran’s nuclear weapons program must be fully and verifiably dismantled. And this is why the pressure on Iran must continue.

So here is what the international community must do: 

  • First, keep up the sanctions. If Iran advances its nuclear weapons program during negotiations, strengthen the sanctions.
  • Second, don’t agree to a partial deal. A partial deal would lift international sanctions that have taken years to put in place in exchange for cosmetic concessions that will take only weeks for Iran to reverse.
  • Third, lift the sanctions only when Iran fully dismantles its nuclear weapons program. 

My friends, the international community has Iran on the ropes. If you want to knock out Iran’s nuclear weapons program peacefully, don’t let up the pressure. Keep it up.
We all want to give diplomacy with Iran a chance to succeed, but when it comes to Iran, the greater the pressure, the greater the chance. 

Three decades ago, President Ronald Reagan famously advised, “trust but verify.” When it comes to Iran’s nuclear weapons program, here’s my advice: Distrust, dismantle and verify.

Ladies and gentlemen, Israel will never acquiesce to nuclear arms in the hands of a rogue regime that repeatedly promises to wipe us off the map. Against such a threat, Israel will have no choice but to defend itself.

I want there to be no confusion on this point. Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone. Yet, in standing alone, Israel will know that we will be defending many, many others.

The dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran and the emergence of other threats in our region have led many of our Arab neighbors to recognize, finally recognize, that Israel is not their enemy. 

And this affords us the opportunity to overcome the historic animosities and build new relationships, new friendships, new hopes.
Israel welcomes engagement with the wider Arab world. We hope that our common interests and common challenges will help us forge a more peaceful future. And Israel’s — continues to seek an historic compromise with our Palestinian neighbors, one that ends our conflict once and for all. We want peace based on security and mutual recognition, in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state of Israel. I remain committed to achieving an historic reconciliation and building a better future for Israelis and Palestinians alike.

Now, I have no illusions about how difficult this will be to achieve. Twenty years ago, the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians began. Six Israeli prime ministers, myself included, have not succeeded at achieving peace with the Palestinians. My predecessors were prepared to make painful concessions. So am I. But so far the Palestinian leaders haven’t been prepared to offer the painful concessions they must make in order to end the conflict.
For peace to be achieved, the Palestinians must finally recognize the Jewish state, and Israel’s security needs must be met.

I am prepared to make an historic compromise for genuine and enduring peace, but I will never compromise on the security of my people and of my country, the one and only Jewish state.

Ladies and gentlemen, one cold day in the late 19th century, my grandfather Nathan and his younger brother Judah were standing in a railway station in the heart of Europe. They were seen by a group of anti-Semitic hoodlums who ran towards them waving clubs, screaming “Death to the Jews.”

My grandfather shouted to his younger brother to flee and save himself, and he then stood alone against the raging mob to slow it down. They beat him senseless, they left him for dead, and before he passed out, covered in his own blood, he said to himself “What a disgrace, what a disgrace. The descendants of the Macabees lie in the mud powerless to defend themselves.”

He promised himself then that if he lived, he would take his family to the Jewish homeland and help build a future for the Jewish people. I stand here today as Israel’s prime minister because my grandfather kept that promise.

And so many other Israelis have a similar story, a parent or a grandparent who fled every conceivable oppression and came to Israel to start a new life in our ancient homeland. Together we’ve transformed a bludgeoned Jewish people, left for dead, into a vibrant, thriving nation, a defending itself with the courage of modern Maccabees, developing limitless possibilities for the future.

In our time the Biblical prophecies are being realized. As the prophet Amos said, they shall rebuild ruined cities and inhabit them. They shall plant vineyards and drink their wine. They shall till gardens and eat their fruit. And I will plant them upon their soil never to be uprooted again.
(In Hebrew.)

Ladies and gentlemen, the people of Israel have come home never to be uprooted again. (Applause.)